Friday, July 23, 2010

Are you an offender? My Top Ten Twitter Pet Peeves

Granted, Social Media is something that in the end each individual must own his or herself. A Twitter account, a Facebook account, or anything else can be or do whatever the person wants, and it is really not appropriate to tell someone how they should or should not do something.

However, there are some things that people do that drive me personally batty. Rather than leaving a snarky message or just complaining about these things, I thought I would give a brief word about why some of these practices might be detrimental to the health of your account - especially if you are tweeting for business. These are just my opinions, and I'd be happy to hear arguments to the contrary!

1. Post the same 2-3 links 2-3 times a day every day: There are a lot of people just in my little corner of Twitter who engage in this practice. Usually it's 2-3 blog posts or Facebook notes. The links are described with the same teaser every single time. This goes on for weeks and weeks at a time. There are two major problems with this. First, it ends up becoming white noise. You stop looking for that person to post anything new. Second, this practice, at least to me, makes the person look like they don't have any new ideas. That makes them seem less engaging and less interesting. Especially if you are tweeting for business, that's a chunk of bad news.

2. Flashing, pulsating avatars: It's possible that you are the most brilliant business person ever. Unfortunately for me, if you use a flashing avatar, I am going to assume you are spam. They get my attention, but in a bad way.

3. Nothin' but Retweets: This is pretty similar to #1. I think a lot of people take to heart the idea that you should promote others 10x more than you promote yourself. However, retweeting is not the only way this can be done. Making responses to people is also a way to get a person's name in front of your followers, and it makes you seem more "human" and accessible. It also shows that you aren't just regurgitating other peoples' ideas. Express yourself!

4. Nothin' but Complaints: Everybody has that moment when they use Social Media as a cry for help. However, even in cases where the person might be our best friend in the world, this can get tiresome. If you are tweeting for business, a surge of negativity can make you like a sourpuss, and people generally don't want to start new relationships with downer types. Up up up is the way to go. A complaint now and again is okay (that human thing again), but make sure you pepper in some humor or wit or happy thoughts!

5. Trying to be a jerk on purpose: I've encountered a few people who I can tell are really bright, but they adopt this persona of being mean on purpose. At times, I've seen it work for people. A snarky comment will sometimes get a lot of "ha ha" responses and retweets. But again, if you are tweeting for business, I think this is a dangerous road to hoe. You can be snarky at times, but if you are nothing but snarky, what kind of message does that send to potential customers?

6. Talking at, not with: This really holds true for any Social Media site. There are some people who do a lot of posting, but it's not really intended to be conversational. These folks might send out 5 quotations a day, or statements that have that "I'm really deep" aura about them. Again, these things are fine, but if that is all you do on Twitter, you run the risk of becoming white noise again. People like to converse, generally. It's Social Media, after all. If you like posting quotes, try to find a way to ask a question afterwards. "Do you know any quotes of a similar jist?"

7. Foursquare: I know that I have an inherent bias against Foursquare because I see possible dangerous ramifications for our youth, so maybe this isn't fair. However, ever since foursquare became integrated with Twitter, my Twitter stream has become filled with check-in notifications. On a personal level, I just find these similar to clutter. However, if you are tweeting for business, these can also be dangerous. Did you call in sick but you're now checking in to a spa? Were you late for a meeting because you had "checked in" to a restaurant? Project pending but you're checking in to your fitness center? These things can send a very bad message to potential and existing customers, not to mention employers.

8. Promoting the same person(s) over and over: It's always nice to promote individuals, especially if they are friends are co-workers. Much like tweeting the same link over and over, however, this methodology gets very old. I have seen some situations where co-workers will tweet praise of each other and then retweet each others' posts. My gut response to this kind of activity is "get a room." Not what you want to get across when tweeting for business. Probably.

9. Sending someone a direct message whom you don't follow: I have been on the wrong end of this several times. Someone would send me a direct message, and I, being the obliging type, would go to respond. Only I wouldn't be able to respond because said person was not following me. Speaking for myself, I found this kind of irritating, plus it certainly put a decisive end to any conversation or interaction.

10. Today is Friday. Are you retweeting your #ff mentions?: Every Friday on Twitter there is a trending topic called "follow Friday." It's a nice sort of idea at heart. You recommend to your followers people whom you think are worth following. A lot of people mishandle this idea. They'll #ff well nigh all of their followers, for example. Some people don't even give any commentary. Just #ff name name name name. That is not my worst pet peeve, however. My big Friday pet peeve is retweeting mentions for #ff. I have only done this once, and I did it because someone handled their mentions in blog form, so I figured I could drive traffic to their blog. But there are many people on twitter who just automatically retweet any mention of them tied to follow Friday. Again, little commentary added, if any. Why is this annoying? Well first of all, if I follow the person who did the original post, then I get to see that follow Friday post 2-3 times instead of just once. But also, it just does not accomplish anything meaningful, at least from my perspective. My preferred method is to say thank you to the person and maybe add the #ff tag to tell them what I am thanking them for. It's human, it's not automated, and it's genuine. Their name still gets in front of my followers, too.

So there you have it. Do you disagree with any of my pet peeves? Are there major advantages to these methods that I am just plain missing? I'm happy to hear about it!

Image by Iker.

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